Delivering more investment for our area is a key priority of mine. That’s why I have been campaigning for the road investment and upgrades we have long needed.
For too long, the A2 has needed to be dualled. The Whitfield roundabout has been overloaded. Meanwhile, Aycliffe residents are too often kept awake by the TAP lorry queue on the A20.
The A2 was meant to be dualled in the late 1990s. Frustratingly, after consultation on a final route for it, the project was axed by the Roads Minister under Tony Blair’s Government. Since I have been elected I have been doing all I can to get this much needed road upgrade moving forward again and have secured a place on the roads projects programme to look at this again.
Recently in Parliament, I met with the Department for Transport and National Highways to discuss the A2 Dover Road upgrade. The meeting was held after I had previously set out our case to ministers, followed by a further meeting with Department for Transport officials in a marathon five hour technical session held in Dover during May.
The meeting in Parliament was really positive. I was very encouraged to see they had given real thought to the case we have been making and there is an increasingly strong business case developing from that work. I am cautiously optimistic that the A2 road upgrade is moving forward in the right direction for our community.
I am keeping up the pressure for more immediate action on Whitfield roundabout. Meanwhile, the Port of Dover are actively working on plans to reduce the use of the TAP system at night. This would be a really important step for long suffering residents as disrupted sleep is very hard to bear.
In addition, big changes are set to come in next year for travel to the EU. New EU driven entry/exit checks threaten to slow things down at the port. This will be particularly tough for tourist coaches. I am working hard to see if a way can be found to ensure these challenges can be overcome and have raised this with the Secretary of State for Transport.
These EU changes are a reminder that we need to see lorry parks built in Kent. We needed these parks before Brexit and we still do now we have left the EU. It is welcome that the Government has just announced investment of £100 million from Government and industry to improve truckstops.
This will help lorry drivers. But I am reminding ministers that Kent lorry parks are needed when tailbacks form – whether due to bad weather on the Channel or French border officers failing to turn up for work.
We know that times are tough financially at the moment. So delivering investment in the current climate is not going to be easy. However, I will keep making the case for the investment we need in our road networks so we can grow and thrive locally and nationally.